To his fashion fans, Rick Owens has long been known as the “Lord of Darkness.” With his signature long black coats, Creatch drop-crotch pants, and — as of late — sky-high platform boots with menacing metal grills, the American-born and longtime Paris-based designer has amassed a loyal following devoted to his Goth-meets-Mad-Max aesthetic.
So it was a surprise to see the designer’s spring summer ’23 women’s collection filled with tulle, sequins and hot pink Barbiecore.
Owens presented his new collection Thursday at Paris Fashion Week, showing at his usual venue outside the Palais de Tokyo, where an ever-growing menagerie of his fashion tribe gathers each season (in and outside the show) to sport some of the most over-the-top Rick Owens pieces out there (those platform boots are just the beginning).
This time, the Goth-clad audience was met with runway looks that were decidedly more glitzy and even included hot pink, the enduring color trend that has sparked the Barbiecore movement as of late.
“I’m saying there are different aesthetic options,” Owens told WWD backstage before the show of his turn to different aesthetic avenues. “It’s a protest against conventional judgment. And this is what I have dedicated my life to.”
To be clear, the designer’s spring summer ’23 women’s collection still included plenty of classic Owens motifs that we’ve seen over the years and in recent seasons. Bold shoulders pointing up as if to resemble a perverse boniness were still present throughout. Fabrics were subversive as ever and included a translucent leather that was intended to represent a 700-year-old jellyfish. Owens’s hit platform shoe was on every model.
Since launching the platform during his fall 2019 collection, the designer has found ways to add the signature menacing toe grill to a variety of styles and uppers (he’s also made them for both women’s and men’s collections, where the boot has been a key style in the growing trend of men in platforms). This season’s platforms were updated with more traditionally glam details, including a fur that resembled feathers from afar and a series of plexi heels done in ombré colors to highlight the color throughout the ready-to-wear.
The glam platforms came with sequined pieces, plenty of trains and even a few tulle evening gowns, which swished down the stone floor of the Palais de Tokyo, getting wet from the fountain’s giant spew of water in the middle. Then there were the pink pieces: mini dresses, translucent oversized bombers with heavy zippers, satin skirts with long trains and thigh-high slits, even one of the aforementioned tulle gowns came in the color.
Owens’s use of hot pink could to some be seen as following the fashion flock, from Valentino to Jimmy Choo and countless others playing into the Barbiecore trend. But seeing as the color has also come with its own political and social messaging — in women’s protests, which are one again very present globally as demonstrations for Mahsa Amina and the women of Iran continue to occur — it’s no surprise that the Lord of Darkness and king of subversion might also try his hand at pink messaging, done his way.